Ha ha! I have returned, overcoming a month's worth of illness, romance and computer failure to bring you the tale of a plucky little guy by the name of Molecular Master! Here, look at him sitting around in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes No. 201:
Such a good-looking era in Legion art - check out the lovely Infectious Lass and the homely-as-sin Porcupine Pete, as well as those way-cool chairs! I want those chairs, but maybe not in orange.
Molecular master gets to try out third, after Infectious Lass has made Star Boy barf and Porcupine Pete has studded the whole damn place with quills - note their abundant presence above. Which, actually, is kind of gross. I know a few people who would have to leave that room pretty quick-like after they realized that it would be like being in a big pile of toenail clippings or used hair or whatnot.
I don't know how I feel about the Molecular master's power:
That's a pretty old conception of what an atom looks like, MM. I do like the Kirby dots, though.
Also, i think that that might be a carbon atom, which is kind of boring. I just don't know...why does making an atom really big make it all crackly and energy-tastic? are all of my atoms doing that right now? And what does he do with the really big atom, anyway? Split it?
And just why the hell isn't he called the Atom Master, anyway? Gosh darn it, I want scientific accuracy fro my minor Seventies Legion characters! Isn't this the magazine that brought us the Chlorophyll Kid, causing literally dozens of youngsters to know that chlorophyll has something to do with plants? Oh, the shame.
So anyway, Molecular Master makes it through the first portion of the Legion application without anyone bellowing "REJECTED!" at him. Meanwhile, ERG-1 (you know, Wildfire) is roaming the Legion clubhouse in my favourite form, that of a blobby little pink cloud of antimatter. This is his second appearance after seemingly killing himself while saving Colossal Boy a year earlier and he's trying to get back to his uniform so that he can have some limbs again. Sadly, all of the Legion's technology seems designed to make life difficult for blobby pink guys and so:
He tries to possess the one person on the premises who isn't covered in Legion tech. But what horrible secret does the Molecular Master conceal?
By the way, I love the Molecular Master's costume. It's A-1.
No mind! But why?
Dang. That is one creepy android. I appreciate all the work that went into making all of those robotic facial features (check out the massive power supply going into that eyebrow! I'll bet he could make Mr. Spock run and cry with one hydraulically-augmented raising of that little number) but hawk-nosed tube-men with wildly staring eyes might just be a new phobia of mine.
Robot nose! Robot cheeks! Robot Adam's apple! Oh my god, terrifying robot ears!
ERG-1/Wildfire is upset about the other aspect of the Molecular Master's power: the highly poisonous breath. I like that at this point there no longer seems to be the need for someone to shout "There must be kryptonite in the gas!", though I would think that any gas potent enough to have an effect on Superboy might not require such a roundabout method of delivery. Just heave it through the front door in grenade form and he'd kill himself by sucking it up for easy disposal. Super-villains, huh? Always over-thinking.
So: evil android filled with poison gas and after the Legion's very own deus ex machina. Can he be stopped in time?
Oops - guess not.
Ah, the Miracle Machine, as recently featured in Final Crisis (and eventually featured in Matter-Eater Lad's bowel). The Legion really shouldn't be surprised that folks try to kill them for this thing. Perhaps they should at least hide it behind something opaque - you know, give the homicidal maniacs a bit of a challenge.
Don't worry, though. ERGfire has used the Machine to restore himself to his suit (and certainly not to fashion himself as new human body, no sir), thus sparing the Molecular Master the embarrassment of standing there dramatically while that big atom completely failed to do anything to the inertron. Psh. Big atoms...
Undaunted, the Molecular Master tries again! He makes the biggest damn atom ever!
ERG-1 eats the super-atom! The Molecular Master's super-power officially sucks. ERG, on the other hand...
... has the Antimatter Kick! I don't even care that Wildfire never really did any kicking in later years - blasting this one android in the face with his foot makes him just incredibly great.
That's not quite the end of the future's best-dressed android, though. A few years later, in Legion of Super-Heroes No. 281, a bunch of Legionnaires are trapped in the past and run into the little scamp. It's a weird issue: Roy Thomas and Paul Levitz team up to produce a weird script, while Steve Ditko and Bruce Patterson compliment it with some weird art.
That costume still looks good, though. Note that in this second appearance everyone thinks that his name is Molecule Master, which is lame. I won't be a party to such a renaming, damn it.
In this issue, the Molecular Master no longer has the awesome power of the Big Atom. Instead, he can sort of generically control molecules, causing things to fly around and warp out of shape and so forth. I think at one point that he turns some air into rocks. Surprisingly, this is not an improvement. The absence of the big atoms has made me miss them.
Superboy, by the way, thinks that he's Ultra Boy, who is at this point possibly dead.
Molecular Master still has a robot nose but its not as terrifying. Thanks for showing me that, Superboy. I'll sleep easier tonight!
So it turns out that MM was working for *yawn* the Time Trapper, who really wanted that Miracle Machine, darn it. I can't remember if the thing was still uneaten at this point - if it wasn't what the Time Trapper was after here then I don't have a sweet clue what's going on. Oh, the perils of writing that hooded buffoon into your stories: I will never remember what the hell is up.
Hey, I just noticed - Saturn Girl is giving him the guns!
See? Lousy power.
Flying machine gun-attack is better than jeep-attack, but still.
Eventually, Molecular Master resorts to throwing rocks at the Legionnaires. Snazzy costume or not, that's pretty lame. Also, this version of the Master exploded when too many people attacked him at once. Were I more fond of the original version of the character, I might have concealed the existence of this one but the big atoms and the horrible robot nose and the Time Trapper connection all come together to spell NOT APPROVED.
There we go. Two hundredth post.